House Democrats say Republican efforts to use the Children’s Health Insurance Program to get them to support a short-term spending deal is backfiring.
Several lawmakers said the House Democratic conference is "pretty unified" against a short-term spending bill to fund the government until Feb. 16, which needs to be passed before the government runs out of money at midnight Friday. Democrats are infuriated over the lack of protections in the bill for “Dreamers” and after President Trump blasted a bipartisan immigration deal.
“I think by and large there’s tremendous unity among the caucus and don’t think that’s changed,” said Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif.
The bill includes six-year funding for CHIP, a program that provides insurance for about nine million low-income children, which Republicans thought would force skeptical Democrats to vote for the legislation.
Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said the only reason CHIP was included was because “they think somehow they will get more votes because of it.”
Republicans started a full-court press to try to pressure Democrats into voting for the spending bill.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., a member of GOP leadership, said during a press conference Wednesday that now is the time to vote for CHIP since states are running out of money.
“There is no good reason to punish children today to keep Congress from passing the CR,” she said.
“The Democrats would rather support illegal aliens as opposed to our American children,” added Rep. Ralph Abraham, R-La.
House Democrats said the pressure is not working.
“They have been trying to use this as leverage since December and it is not working,” said Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo. “Don’t put those millions of kids in jeopardy of losing their health insurance because you guys are trying to get political leverage.”
The addition of CHIP doesn’t appear to be shoring up Democratic votes on the Senate side, either.
A senior Democratic aide said Senate Democrats have enough votes to block the spending bill. Three Republican senators have said they will oppose the measure. Seventeen Democrats voted for the Dec. 22 continuing resolution.
Sanchez said she believes fewer House Democrats may vote for the short-term continuing resolution than voted for the last one, which passed Dec. 22.
Other Democrats echoed that sentiment.
“My sense ... is that we have right now pretty solid unity,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va.
• Washington Examiner Reporter Laura Barron-Lopez contributed to this report.